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Definition Of Organizational Culture
Organizational culture is a type of organizational analysis that is believed to be borrowed from the field of anthropology. It was first described as an organizational unit of concern in 1979. Subsequently when culture and its relevance to organizational systems have been matters of academic and professional concern, many books and articles are written to define and describe the nature of organizational culture. There is however no single universally accepted definition exists as of to date. The term organizational culture generally is referring to the shared meanings, beliefs and understandings held by a particular group or organization about its problems, practices and goals.
The organizational members’ interaction patterns, language, themes of everyday conversation and rituals of daily routine seem to reflect elements of organizational culture. But culture is less conscious and it exists at a deeper level. So far none describe the ‘essence of culture’ itself, where the essence of culture is the basic assumptions and beliefs that are invented, discovered or developed by all members of a group during the course of coping with its problems of external adaptation and internal integration. These are later taught to the new members as the correct way to perceive, think and feel in relation to those problems.
Organizational cultures evolve from the social practices of organizational members and are, socially created realities that exist in the members’ minds as well as in the formal rules, policies, and procedures in the organizational structures. Culture is an ongoing process of reality construction providing a pattern of understanding that helps organizational members to interpret events and give meaning to their working lives.
As highlighted by Lee and Yu (2004), when an organization is postulated to have a ‘strong culture’, it is usually defined to be widely shared among employees. Well-developed cultural artifacts like ‘rituals’ and ‘organizational stories’ are anecdotes given to illustrate particular cultural traits.
In the research of Rashid, Sambasivan and Rahman (2004) however, organizational culture is defined in terms of the sociability and solidarity dimensions. Sociability is defined as the extent of friendliness in relationships between people in an organization. Solidarity is the ability of people to pursue shared goals efficiently and effectively for the larger good of the organization without much regard for the impact on individuals and the relationships between them. There were four main types of corporate culture derived based on these two dimensions: communal culture, fragmented culture, networked culture and mercenary culture. In this framework, culture is a community or the way in which people relate to each other.
The term ‘organization culture’ has been defined in the literature by numerous authors and two exemplary definitions are (Park, Ribiere and Schulte, 2004):
1. Routine ways of doing things that people accept and live by. Organizations have norms and values that influence how members conduct themselves. These norms may prevent members from applying a maximum effort or may encourage them to do so.
2. A pattern of shared basic assumptions that the group learned as it solved its problems of external adaptation and internal integration, that had worked well enough to be considered valid, and therefore, to be taught to new members as the correct way to perceive, think and feel in relation to those problems.
In short, organizational culture can be more simply defined as the character or the personality of an organization. Often, it is described as ‘the way things are done in an organization’.
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